Shifting to summer, weekly rotation

In yesterday’s post, I talked about some ways that I will be optimizing my practice for an upcoming recording project that I am doing in July. But, of course, a typical musician is working on other repertoire simultaneously–and I am no exception to this trend.

I have a few other performances that I need to rotate into my practice schedule. Even with a limited “pandemic schedule,” my repertoire is demanding: a couple of quintet gigs, a 4th of July orchestra performance and a Brandenburg No. 2 performance in August. One of the quintet gigs is soon, and I need to start developing the comfort on the Brandenburg now–because it is so demanding in terms of range and endurance.

Trumpeters should not always try to go through all of their repertoire every day until finished. This may work for a few days, but then you will start to have a harder and harder time practicing. Your tone, response, overall playing and your enthusiasm will start to get worse, because of over-practice. Of course, this depends on the fitness of the trumpeter, the repertoire, and the equipment that is used. This practice limitation is made worse by the fact that we have to warmup and do fundamental practice everyday. As Bernie Adelstein said to me years ago in a lesson, “you only have so many hours of lip time each day.”

We have to develop a number of strategies to overcome these limitations, so that we can be functioning musicians. We have to develop efficient practice, techniques to practice off the trumpet, stacking fundamentals, and logical repertoire rotations that help us do some music, but not all.

Below, I’ve listed my repertoire out with their endurance/range demands on a scale of 1-10 (the “E” scale), how much extra practice I need on them at this point (“P” scale: 1-10) and what trumpets I need to play on them :

  1. Poelking, Cassini. E4. P3. C tpt.
  2. Olson, 1054. E5. P7 (memory, technology). Bb tpt.
  3. Dunker, Three Views. E6. P6 (memory). Bb and Eb tpts.
  4. David, Moonwatcher. E6. P5. C tpt and flugelhorn.
  5. Hedwig, New Worlds. E4. P4. D tpt.
  6. Quintet performance in May. E5. C tpt.
  7. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. E6. Piccolo.

I like to play three “hard” days per week, interspersed with four “easy” days. This helps build strength and endurance while allowing for necessary recovery. Letting the hard days be a 30 on the “E” scale (endurance/range) and the easy days be no more than a 20, here is how I could schedule a week. Each day’s practice is detailed (each part with an “E” number). Notice that I have incorporated different trumpets into my fundamentals to get more familiar with them for my solo repertoire.

Monday (easy day). Stamp warmup (E1), Clarke 1 (E1), Irons slurs (E2). Olson (E5). Dunker (E6). Quintet rep (E5). Total E is 20.

Tuesday (hard day). Claude Gordon warmup (E3), Clarke 2 on flugelhorn (E1), my own slurs on flugel (E1). Poelking (E4). David (E6). Hedwig (E4). Olson (E5). Brandenburg (E6). Total E is 30.

Wednesday (easy day). Sachs warmup (E1), Clarke 3 on D trumpet (E1), Smith slurs on flugel (E1), Olson (E5), Dunker (E6), Quintet (E5). Total E is 19.

Thursday (hard day). Caruso warmup (E3), Clarke 4 on C (E1), Bai Lin slurs on flugel (E1). Poelking, first half (E2). David (E6). Hedwig (E4). Dunker (E6). Brandenburg (E6). Total E is 29.

Friday (easy day). Cichowicz flow studies (E1), Clarke 5 on Bb (E1), Bach Cello Suite for slurs–on flugel (E2). Olson (E5). Dunker (E6). Quintet rep (E5). Total E is 20.

Saturday (hard day). Gordon warmup (E3). Clarke 6 on D tpt (E2). Colin slurs on Bb (E1). Poelking, second half (E2). David (E6). Hedwig (E4). Olson (E5). Brandenburg (E6). Total E is 29.

Sunday (easy day). Daniel warmup (E1). Clarke 7 on flugel (E1). No slurs. Olson (E5). Dunker (E6). Quintet rep (E5). Total E is 18.


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Shift to summer with stacking

This is the time of year I shift from my normal academic trumpet routine–whatever that might be–to a new routine for summer. For the summer break we get in academia and many playing jobs. I realize with what irony I say this while there is snow on the ground in Colorado, where I live (it’s May 11).

It’s a chance to rethink what you do. A chance to find ways to get your faded fundamentals feeling fresh while your eyes are on the big goals. Most of the time this means stacking my clarified goals onto my mundane fundamental needs. But before I get into stacking, we should look at goals. Everyone has their own big goals. I’ll share my top five.

  1. Get tenure at Colorado State. For me this means being a better recruiter, teacher, and performer.
  2. Be creative. This is a driving force for me.
  3. Be healthy. This means physical and mental fitness, doctor and dentist stuff.
  4. Family
  5. Being a good leader in the Historic Brass Society

The big goal that most easily “stacks” with my trumpet playing is getting tenure at CSU, because that what I do. I am the trumpet professor. The summer shift means being deliberate about the portfolio of music that I am practicing. In July, I will do a major solo recording project, so that is the most important repertoire on my stand. There are other pieces on the horizon, but for today’s post, I’ll concentrate on this recording project.

My goal is to make a great video recording, collaborating with my colleagues and making media material that will interest people in the CSU Trumpet Studio.

My strategy for preparation is to think of my chop fitness, my mental preparation, my visual presentation and some technology issues with one of the pieces (it has computer-generated accompaniment).

  1. For chop fitness, I mean my overall fundamentals. I’m trying to spread them out over the several instruments that I have to play, so that they are all comfortable. It’s no good having a great high register on one piece and, at the same time, not be able to play pianissimo on a low flugelhorn note. So, for instance, I’ll play my Clarkes or slur studies on the flugel.
  2. Mental preparation: even though all of these pieces are newly-commissioned compositions, there are some recordings I’ve made of the material over the last year, and there are some midi-recordings the composers have provided. Practicing with a recording is a huge benefit that will help my ensemble and memory work. Memory would be a great goal, especially for the two unaccompanied pieces. Not sure if I have time, but I’ll try.
  3. Visual. This will be video-recorded. I should put some effort into looking organized in my body–while at the same time relaxed and fluid. Practicing expressions, both while playing and while resting can be helpful. Video recording myself during practices, mirror practice are two ways to tackle this.
  4. Technology. I have to practice one piece with lots of little pedal cues for the computer. There are a lot of things going on, but it would be great to look confident on a video recording of this piece.
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